Solar Panels: The Unspoken Environmental Cost

For more than a decade, climate change skeptics have been sounding the alarm about the not-so-distant consequences of the global push for renewable energy, particularly solar panels. Their concerns, too often dismissed or overlooked, are now making headlines. A recent BBC podcast, “The Climate Question,” raises serious issues about the lifespan and end-of-life management of solar panels, issues that we have been echoing for years.

While they are being promoted around the world as a crucial weapon in reducing carbon emissions, solar panels only have a lifespan of up to 25 years,

writes Daniel Gordon of BBC Sounds. That’s a significant problem considering the sheer number of panels being installed worldwide. As Dr. Rong Deng states,

The world has installed more than one terawatt of solar capacity… there could be as many as 2.5 billion solar panels.

The truth is, solar panels aren’t eternal. And as they age, billions will eventually need to be disposed of and replaced, creating what Ute Collier, deputy director of the International Renewable Energy Agency, describes as a potential “waste mountain by 2050.” In response to this emerging issue, Ms. Collier is calling for “urgent government action.”

Despite the exciting boom period for solar panel installations, there’s a pressing need to grapple with this oncoming wave of waste.

By 2030, we think we’re going to have four million tonnes [of scrap] – which is still manageable – but by 2050, we could end up with more than 200 million tonnes globally,

warns Ms. Collier. To put it in perspective, that’s half the amount of plastic currently produced globally each year.

The challenge of recycling these discarded panels is even more daunting. Traditional recycling methods, while able to recover most of the aluminum and glass, struggle to extract and reclaim the more precious materials, like silver and copper. According to Mr. Nicolas Defrenne, over 60% of the value of solar panels is contained in just 3% of their weight. However, these materials are intertwined with other components, making them economically challenging to separate.

Moreover, there’s simply not enough infrastructure to handle this kind of recycling demand. And with the first generation of solar panels nearing the end of their usable life, the clock is ticking. “Now is the time to think about this,” stresses Ms. Collier.

Initiatives like ROSI, the world’s first factory fully dedicated to recycling solar panels, are emerging. These ventures, still in their infancy, provide hope that even if the onslaught of dubious solar farm installations continue, that it’s not too late to turn this potential eco-disaster around.

Even if one decides it is a good idea to transition away from fossil fuels, even if just to preserve them as resources for future generations, this story underscores the necessity for a balanced approach to our energy solutions – one that factors in not just immediate benefits, but also long-term environmental costs.

Duh….Nuclear needs to be in the mix.


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June 4, 2023 10:14 pm

“Now is the time to think about this,” stresses Ms. Collier.

Should have thought about that when you championed solar.

June 4, 2023 10:21 pm

Even if one decides it is a good idea to transition away from fossil fuels, even if just to preserve them as resources for future generations

This is muddled thinking on the basis of using solar panels to conserve fossil fuels. Solar panels take more fossil fuel to make than they can save over their operating life. More panels means more fossil fuel burnt than if the fuel was used directly to produce electricity and heat.

The only reason that fact is not obvious for everyone is because the panels are being made in China. No country chasing NetZero could possibly make the panels on a sustainable basis. Panels are fossil fuel sinks.

Iain Reid
Reply to  RickWill
June 4, 2023 11:54 pm


not only that but they are the worst of all the renewables because of, in addition to practical and technical deficiencies, they are inflexible and output doesn’t meet the demand curve. This causes the grid operator problems particularly in sunny countries which utilise a lot of solar capacity.

Reply to  Iain Reid
June 5, 2023 6:35 am

If used to produce air conditioning, generally more required hot sunny days, then power production versus utilization of solar is pretty good. Cooking that Christmas eve turkey with solar power is a big problem though….that’s when you need Diablo Canyon to be on line.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 8, 2023 1:41 pm

More required on hot sunny days yes, but unless you don’t go out to work probably not during the TIMES OF day when needed.

Peter K
Reply to  RickWill
June 5, 2023 1:35 am


energy needed to produce solar panel is around 10% of energy they are able to produce during 30 years lifetime.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 2:30 am

A link to verify this would be useful, Peter.

Peter K
Reply to  Oldseadog
June 5, 2023 3:04 am
They are stating that energy payback time is 1 – 4 years. So take average 2 years and 20 years lifetime, it is 10%.
Also below in my other comment I stated that panels in their lifetime create equivalent of 120kg oil energy or 300kg of coal per 500W panel. While my guess is that around 12kg of oil or 30kg of coal per panel production looks reasonable.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 3:51 am

Thank you, Peter; I am now even more confused. Some of the linked pieces say the payback is as you say, some say that the things use more energy to make than they produce and some won’t answer the question unless you use Google or Facebook.
Ho hum.

Peter K
Reply to  Oldseadog
June 5, 2023 4:08 am

Production of energy per panel I have from my own solar system. Real world. Panels are in theory capable to create more than I’m able to use. 3.2kW system is doing 3.2MWh per year. Theoretical value is somewhere around 4.6MWh for my panels area and location.
So conservatively assuming 20 years lifespan it is 64MWh for 3.2kW. One panel is 0.5kW, so it is 10MWh per 500W panel lifetime energy production.
And assuming 10kWh per liter of oil energy content, that is equivalent of 1000 liters oil. Current price is somewhere around 0.5$ per liter of oil, so that is equivalent of 500$ per panel produced.
Price of 500W panel is somewhere around 160$ without taxes.
So no way manufacturers are using more fossil fuels to produce panel than it costs.
And in my case price of panel is around 200$ with taxes and it produces 10MWh of energy during lifetime with price around 1760$.
So for me it looks it is 1:3 when you are comparing to cheap oil or 1:10 when you are comparing with expensive electricity.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 4:55 am

Pertaining to the topic of this article, what is your plan and its cost for disposal of your panels upon their obsolescence?

Peter K
Reply to  Scissor
June 5, 2023 5:36 am

It depends what will be available in the time when panels will be out of commission.
But simply I will take them to our town recycling center and they will end up on the landfill or in electro waste (existing already), or dedicated panels recycling.
Same way as they are taking electro waste, scrap metals, old tires, used vegetable oil, batteries.
I was already getting rid of old lead batteries and I was surprised I got like 15% of their original price for scrap lead.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 6:49 am

When I had to get rid of a whole bunch of old TVs (long story–don’t ask) at the electronic recycle facility, not only was it a 20 mile one way drive (x 4 trips–it was lot of TVs), but it cost me $0.50/pound of TVs to dispose of them (all in all, close to $500). Depending on where you can go, and how subsidized the facility is, the price could be substantial. This particular facility was government owned.

paul courtney
Reply to  Peter K
June 6, 2023 2:24 pm

Mr. K: In other words, you have no answer to Scissor’s question, which is the point of this article that you simply dodge. Your existing landfill may refuse to take them, and dedicated panel recycling does not exist. I notice that your pride in DIY doesn’t cover taking the thing apart and disposing of it safely yourself, does it?

Peter K
Reply to  paul courtney
June 9, 2023 5:58 am

I don’t see any problems with recycling of panels. Much of the weight are easily recyclable materials like aluminum, copper, tin, lead.
What is remaining is mass of silicone and glass (silicone oxide) with traces of other metals.
You can directly reuse silicone, melt it, purify and recreate silicone panels.
If not, silicone and its oxidation result silicone oxide is most general material in world, basically sand. So just stack it until it can be reused later.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 5:57 am

Thanks Peter. The thing is that some estimates don’t include the energy costs of shipping, production of the raw materials and so on. I am looking for the total energy used in mining, shipping, manufacturing, delivering and installing the system.

Reply to  Oldseadog
June 5, 2023 6:41 am

Something called “purchase price” generally includes mining, manufacturing, shipping, and such….at least until government subsidies confuse the issue.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 5, 2023 6:47 am

Yes, but I’m not looking for the price, I am looking for the total energy expended to make and install the thing.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 3:54 pm

You’re ignoring the cost in diesel and electricity to mine and process the silicon, aluminum, copper, etc., etc.. Then add in more cost to make the solar panel cells and assemble into panels. Then you need to add in the shipping costs (bunker fuel for the freighter from China) and more diesel to transport to point of sale, then more cost to install.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Peter K
June 8, 2023 1:47 pm

NO, it is NOT the “equivalent of 1,000 liters of oil.”

Oil can provide energy 24/7, ON DEMAND.

When you ignore intermittency, it’s simply dishonest.

Peter K
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
June 9, 2023 6:01 am

If it is spent you can ignore intermittency. As I mentioned I have decent 5kWh battery which looks funny comparing to 100kWh battery in some Tesla car.
I always counted with energy I was really able to spend.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 5:03 am

But it also takes energy to ship the panels from China. The ones installed in the solar “farm” here in north central Woke-achusetts were shipped to a port on the Connecticut coast, then trucked to the location- a few hundred miles. Then a large labor force was need to install the panels. About 50 men who all drove their big pick up trucks to the site from their homes- often more than an hour or two away. The site had been a large gravel/sand pit of about 20 acres. It had been left a mess. To prepare it for the panels it took over a dozen bulldozers, excavators, logging machines (for the acres that had grown back to trees). To level the site they brought in a few hundred big truck loads of sand/gravel from the owner’s other gravel/sand pits. They had one specialized machine that drove poles into the ground to mount the panels on, etc., etc., etc. And of course, it’ll take a lot of energy to dismantle the solar “farm” eventually. Count all that energy. You can see the entire construction of this solar “farm” in a video I made:

Peter K
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 5, 2023 5:42 am

Yes you are right, you can do it one way or another.
Using unused area like house roof is ok, it is even helping to keep roof colder in summer, saving A/C energy. Installation costs are low. You need just few aluminum beams, stainless screws. You are not competing with vegetation.
On the other side you have big areas of country destroyed for solar farms, lot of energy used for landscaping. Usually payed only from subsidies coming from taxes. This is definitely not ok.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 5:49 am

In the case you see in my video- the state overlooked many environmetnal laws- like protecting the banks of that river with a sufficient buffer- and laws protecting rare and endangered species- many were in the area. I contacted the state agencies who just blew me off saying it’s state policy to push these big solar “farms”. Yet, as a consulting forester, if I’m managing a timber harvest- they micro manage me. If an uncommon species of ant is in the area, I’d have to stop the project!

Reply to  Peter K
June 7, 2023 1:58 am

My panels were mounted specifically where the double layer helps cool the veranda under a corrugated iron roof. A twofer indeed.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 7:49 am

False equivalency. Wind and solar only generate electricity. That is all. Comparing them with FF is apples and oranges.

Peter K
Reply to  barryjo
June 6, 2023 3:41 am

Nope, it is like comparing energy content of Apples and Oranges. From this point, it has meaning.
For some applications FF are pure energy. Coal around 4kWh/kg, oil around 10kWh/kg.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Peter K
June 8, 2023 1:54 pm

Until intermittency and “back up” is considered, it is meaningless.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 5:58 pm

G’Day Peter,

I tried your link, it went straight to ChatGPT. Trustworthy? Me, I have my doubts.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
June 8, 2023 1:58 pm

There was a classic headline this week about a law firm that used ChatGPT for legal research –

“Artificial Intelligence Cites Artificial Case Law.”

Reminds me of George Carlin’s ‘Biff Barf’ sportscaster – “I call ’em the way I see ’em and if I don’t see ’em, I make ’em up!”


AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Peter K
June 8, 2023 1:44 pm

Too bad they last more like 20 years for starters. And you’re conveniently overlooking that much of what is produced is not produced when needed.

So yes, another idiotic energy sink.

Peter K
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
June 9, 2023 6:03 am

That is why I have decent 5kWh battery, which is shifting sun energy exactly there I want it.

Reply to  RickWill
June 5, 2023 2:41 am

Don’t forget that the laws of thermodynamics have been repealed in the future fossil fuel free utopia. Energy can be created ad infinitum, you can get more energy out than you put in. Entropy can be reduced.

John Hultquist
June 4, 2023 10:55 pm

 In my local area there is a set of panels on an old barn. The man that agreed to the instillation died in year 5. The other set is on a frame one-hundred feet from her house. She too will be gone in a few years, but is only living here a few weeks each year. Because of the way the local utility handles these things, neither will pay for themselves near term, if ever.
In the first case a brother is now in charge, in the second a daughter soon will be.
My view is that each passing year after about 10 years will decrease the sales value of the property. Buying trouble is not common sense.
This is an individual side of the solar panel unintended consequences.  

Reply to  John Hultquist
June 7, 2023 2:17 am

Am I to understand they rented out space for other people’s panels? That would make sense of your post, though I still have to edit your final sentence:

This is an individual side of the solar panel unforeseen consequences by the legal party who was not party to the other party’s actual business plan.

This has perfect analogy in the meat production business, where large conglomerates like Tyson bind naive but venal farmers into contracts that must inevitably lead to the demise of farming at the expense of monopolisation of the trade. Also applicable to Whirlygiggers…
The whole scam hangs upon subsidies to the very people who caused the need for subsidies.

Chris Hanley
June 4, 2023 11:33 pm

According to the US Solar Energy Industries Association residential and commercial solar installations got going around 2008.
A Google search for solar PV useful life produces mainly sponsored entries claiming 25 to 30 years and even 35 years yet according to the LA Times (July 14 2022):
“Beginning in 2006, the state, focused on how to incentivize people to take up solar power, showered subsidies on homeowners who installed photovoltaic panels but had no comprehensive plan to dispose of them. Now, panels purchased under those programs are nearing the end of their typical 25-to-30-year life cycle”.
Given that journalists at the LA Times are not even primary level mathematicians it confirms what I’ve always suspected viz. solar panel salespeople have less credibility than used car salespeople, in fact everything related to ‘renewables’ are half-truths at best.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 5, 2023 1:14 am

You ‘took the words’

The salespeople are telling what you quote, 25, 30 and even 40 years of life for the things
Read the BBC story:“In many cases, solar units become relatively uneconomical before they reach the end of their expected lifespan. New, more efficient designs evolve at regular intervals, meaning it can prove cheaper to replace solar panels that are only 10 or 15 years old with updated versions.

“””cheaper to replace solar panels that are only 10 or 15 years old”“”

Errr, who says they’re cheaper – what are you trying to tell/sell me here?

Out there on youtube is guy answering to ‘bigclive’
He’s very practical chap with an electrical engineering bent and likes to ‘reverse engineer’ things.
One of the things ‘Dubai lamps‘ as manufactured by Phillips
here they are
Also in the screenshot – can you ‘Spot the difference’ before watching the video? There’s an LED for Western use on the left with 3 ‘Dubai bulbs’ on the right

What he unearthed in that video was how the Chinese (manufacturers of nearly all LED lamps, bulbs, chips etc) have become masters of Planned Obsolescence.

It is that, any LED chip installed properly in any lighting system, should have a nearly infinite lifetime. But what the Chinese are doing is designing and manufacturing LED bulbs where the chip(s) is over-driven with current/voltage.
This makes them cheaper to build, it makes them brighter and uses less number of chips in any given design.

End result, as consumers see, is LED bulbs that last for 10 to 15 thousand hours = a lot longer than incandescent bulbs but nowhere near what an LED should be doing.
The public are duped = lied to but have short memories and don’t (usually) notice.
(Listen to how bigclive talks and explains things, for fluffs, mistakes, ummms, ahhs, repeats, losttheplots. Do you think he’s a drinker. Neither are Chinese to any great extent.)

Which suits the Chinese down to the ground – folks then need to go out and buy new bulbs – at (UK prices) £5+ a pop. Compared to incandescents that lasted only 1,000 hours but cost £0.50 each
So the cost of buying new bulbs hasn’t changed but the material/resource content of LEDs is massive compared to Tungsten bulbs

The thinking there is very clear= Why make something that will last forever?
As a manufacturer, you put yourself out of business.

Is the same thing happening with solar panels. What about windmills – getting to be 15 yrs old max compared a CCGT at 40 years or a nuke at 60+ yrs
What about batteries…..

So yes OK, all this effort may be saving ‘energy’ but all we’re doing is exchanging that for materials/resources = destruction of The Environment.
And it was all being done, supposedly, to Save The Environment

There is not a scintilla of goodness in this entire climate scam.
It has got to be THE biggest crock of lies, cheating, money-grubbing, greed and hypocrisy EVAH

and junk science

Dubai Lamps.PNG
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 6, 2023 6:34 am

“The thinking there is very clear= Why make something that will last forever? As a manufacturer, you put yourself out of business.”

A good example of that is Gardenway Carts. I bought two of their carts in 1983 and still use them to this day. I assume that’s why Gardenway went out of business: their products never wear out.

One person and a good cart can do the work of two or three people. Can move loads that one person alone couldn’t hope to move, and is much more useful and stable than a wheelbarrow.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 7, 2023 2:22 am

There should be a Peta Reward to celebrate the triumph of common sense over jibbidy jabber.

Joe Gordon
June 4, 2023 11:41 pm

There are so many self-important upper-middle class people out there who think they’re wonderful. They make statements like “I am carbon-neutral” and they post those “97%” memes in response to any idea that might threaten their limited views of the world.

They simply don’t get that their solar panels required energy to produce and need to be backed up a lot of the time. They don’t get that their “getting around town” electric car has a heavy battery that has to be hauled around, took energy and hard-to-mine metals to produce. And that every time it’s charged, that energy came from somewhere. They don’t get that car batteries and solar panels and wind turbines have a very short life span and are all but impossible to recycle.

They lobby the government for more and more subsidies for their panels and their cars, oblivious to the damage that deficit spending does to the economy. They complain when the subsidies aren’t high enough, as if someone making an average wage could ever pay for the remaining share of a car that can’t be used every day, winter or summer, trip or no trip.

They just don’t get it. They are completely convinced that they are personally saving the planet. It’s genuine on their part. Their children are growing up singing the same mantra, going to schools where they no longer teach science and math.

And certainly not biology, because the only thing they want for their children more than to join this climageddon religion is that they become part of some victim group that now requires more letters in its acronym than there are letters in our alphabet. Because then not only are they saving the planet, but they’re saving these special children as well.

It’s crazy. Reason cannot penetrate this religion. They genuinely think of themselves as Christ figures when they’re really parasites on society, doing immeasurable harm. We see a few examples here – this “Nick Stokes” guy would be in the majority on many forums I visit. They’re 100 times worse when unchallenged, not that they ever respond to reason.

Barnes Moore
Reply to  Joe Gordon
June 5, 2023 4:39 am

Amen. A Thomas Sowell quote fits this bunch perfectly “It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.”

Reply to  Joe Gordon
June 5, 2023 6:56 am

If these special children sterilize themselves in the process, they will all be out of the gene pool. It may take a few years, but this is the long game.

Joe Gordon
Reply to  starzmom
June 5, 2023 2:41 pm

The number actually going to the trouble to sterilize their children (excuse me, affirm them) is fairly low.

They’ve found they get all the social benefits of the claim without actually having to do anything other than buy the correct Barbie doll (are those still made with plastic, or is Barbie now made from hemp and quinoa and fibers delicately cultivated from free-range Peruvian llama herds?).

The birth rate issue is a concern, though. We do not want our population aging like the Japanese and Chinese have. And that is happening right now. Our future depends on these poor little abused alphabet children and their friends, and it isn’t looking good.

Reply to  Joe Gordon
June 7, 2023 2:33 am

Our future depends on these poor little abused alphabet children and their friends,

No, deary, our future depends on keeping these poor, abused little retards out of positions of command, something our parents failed at, because they underestimated the viciousness of the pervert, and the filial bonds between degenerate outcasts, you know, ‘honor amongst thieves’? Refer to constant mention of transphobic genocide upon their ‘community’?
I have heard report that interrelationship violence amongst the perverted are 400 times as frequent as in the average heterosexual partnership. They say they want to rescue us from toxic testosterone…
If you entrust the future to them, there will be much blood spilled while they dance in the streets.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  starzmom
June 8, 2023 2:09 pm

But the “education” system is busy indoctrinating the rest.

Stephen Wilde
June 5, 2023 12:25 am

By the time it is realised that CO2 emissions are net beneficial it will also become apparent that fossil fuels were actually the least damaging to the environment compared to all other energy sources.

Peter K
June 5, 2023 12:47 am

I have small self built solar system. 3,3kWp power, 3kW inverter and 2,5kWh battery. This system is able to power around 75% of my household electricity need.
And I’m living in middle Europe, not best place for solar, where 3 months a year yields are around 5-10% of installed capacity.
But I designed this system carefully for quick return. And it should return its cost in around 7 years. That is well within of panels and battery lifetime.
I have it in use for 1,5 years already, it produced energy value of around 500 Euros, while whole system price was around 3500 Euros.
Now I have more experiences and I would be able to build this system cheaper, more effective and also prices of panels and batteries went down a little bit. So it is possible to pursue 5 years of return.
System has its perks I like very much, like 6 months a year I have surplus of energy, which I’m putting in my hot tub and keeping it hot during sunny days “for free”.

Stephen Wilde
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 12:52 am

That return of cost calculation is entirely a result of the incompetent production and pricing of fossil fuels. In a sensibly ordered world the cost would never be recovered.

Peter K
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
June 5, 2023 1:31 am

That is disputable, energy mix in our country is 56% nuclear, 14% hydro, 9% other renewables, 21% conventional, coal, natural gas.
Price for electricity is currently around 16 Euro cents/kWh. Including tax, distributions. I think pricing of fossil fuels has very small impact here.
And yet small solar is pretty competitive, without any subventions and can even earn for its own recycling.
1kW solar panel is able to produce around 1,2MWh yearly, for 20 years. That is 24MWh per 1kW. Currently 1kW is around 2 solar panels. So production and reclamation hardly uses 12MWh per panel. 12MWh is roughly 120kg of oil, or 300kg of coal. I don’t know exact number, but I would expect that energy to produce and recycle one solar panel is counted in tens of kilograms of fossil fuels.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 1:43 am

Purely selfish for me when I installed solar. I wanted to get on the subsidy bandwagon and try to claw back some of the impacts of the rising costs. Circular argument maybe, but I have saved around $3800 AUD since Novemeber 2020 on my electricity bills. Total cost to me for the system was $4800 so it is well on the way to paying for itself.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  timster0
June 5, 2023 5:08 am

“paying for itself”

Right, as you admit, from a purely selfish perspective- but how about from society’s economic perspective?

Reply to  timster0
June 5, 2023 1:29 pm

More reasonable people in Australia and California (anywhere else?) have attempted to require rooftop solar owners to PAY for the large costs of having their panels on the grid. The green parasites have so far blocked these efforts, as far as my information goes.

While most rooftop solar exports its electricity to the grid, much of that cannot be readily used. Reports are that CA pays millions of $ per month to other states to take the excess solar (mid day) from it southern desert solar plants, then more millions to buy externally generated electricity at the times the solar facilities produce little or none.

The rooftop owner gets paid for unusable generation regardless of its effect on the grid, which also includes the extra grid costs for frequency stabilization, load balancing, and such. While details vary widely by jurisdiction, based on comments on rooftop solar, owners are often paid at a much higher price per kWh than wholesale. This big subsidy for the panel owners must be paid by the majority of the population. The majority have no possibility of cashing in on the scheme, its all cost to them. Without that paid output to the grid, either much of the panel owner’s electricity needs would not be supplied by his system or his cost would bo up substantially for storing the electricity when it is generated so it can be used when it is needed.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 5:07 am

“And it should return its cost in around 7 years.”
Are you counting any subsidies and tax breaks in your cost analysis?

Peter K
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 5, 2023 5:29 am

Nope, no tax breaks, no subsidies. Before installation I spoke with few companies and result was that their price was always increased by subsidy amount. So for me just more bureaucracy no gain.
And no feeding to grid.
My friend installed 6kW system and on sunny day he is feeding around 50kWh to grid for free.
He has like 1MWh “virtual battery” paid service, where he can take back 1MWh of energy anytime. But he still must pay distribution fees.
His system is capable of 6MWh per year, he is using around 2MWh plus 1MWh from virtual battery and giving another 3MWh to grid for free.

I just counted my sweet spot where return is quickest and system is saving around 70% of my yearly energy consumption.
I could easily doubled my investment but that would mean 8000Eur investment instead of 4000Eur and I would only gain additional like 15% of energy for 4000Eur. Not worth of it.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 5, 2023 1:22 pm

Plus your share of the subsidy you received, paid by way of increased tax to finance the subsidy.

Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 1:18 pm

I hope you included in your calculations the value of your labour, because that is essential for any valid comparison. However, I have to admit that the only solar-panel-installation I can see as having real value is when it is part of a domestic installation where there is a ready heat-sink, such as a swimming pool or hot tub. Mind, even that is dubious unless you make the special effort to get into it and benefit from the warmed water. Hope you do that, Peter, frequently and repeatedly, in cold Central Europe!

Peter K
Reply to  mikelowe2013
June 6, 2023 12:18 am

Yes, I wrote somewhere above, that perk of this system is having hot tub ready during summer.
It is not crucial to work of the system or investment return time, but it is good…
600l hot tub. Around 6-8KWh needed to keep it on 39C – 100F daily.
My prices includes labor for installation panels on the roof. But otherwise I did everything “for free”, but I must say, I’m IT, electrotechnical university degree, it is not work average man can do.
On the other side it is not work which is worth thousands of $….

Ben Vorlich
June 5, 2023 1:18 am

“Now is the time to think about this,” stresses Ms. Collier.

Unfortunately now is far too late, it should have been thought about at the start.
Reading bthe article on the BBC it says
ROSI, the specialist solar recycling company which owns the facility, in the Alpine city of Grenoble, hopes eventually to be able to extract and re-use 99% of a unit’s components.
Key words hopes eventually but what is it currently. This appears to be the only recycling plant with a potentially viable process. Because someone lese says
His team at Soren has been experimenting with different ways of recycling what they collect: “We’re throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
So they have nothing.

Currently there is not enough silver available to build the millions of solar panels which will be required in the the transition from fossil fuels, says Mr Defrenne: “You can see where you have a production bottleneck, it’s silver.”
Moreover, the technology is expensive. In Europe, importers or producers of solar panels are responsible for disposing of them when they become expendable. And many favour crushing or shredding the waste – which is far cheaper.

Another nice mess you’ve gotten me into – h/t Oliver Hardy

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2023 3:19 pm

And of course THERE IS NOT, AND WILL NEVER BE, a “transition from fossil fuels.”

Fossil fuels provide the energy in every step from mining to smelting to manufacture to erection on site to maintenance to demolition, plus related transportation at every step, PLUS BACKUP for when worse-than-useless wind and solar don’t produce PLUS frequency modulation for when they are erratically producing.

Peta of Newark
June 5, 2023 1:48 am

More on Planned Obsolescence, lies lies lies and Junk Science = maybe a story unto itself…..
Headline:Electric cars were hailed as the greener and cheaper….

Also (see this one near the above link too)
Headline:Mr. Bean’ star Rowan Atkinson feels ‘duped’ by promises of electric vehicles

(‘Mr Bean’ went to ‘Electronic Engineering School’ = just like me)

June 5, 2023 2:58 am

$30,000 for average solar purchase and installation on a single family house in the U.S., yet other commenters outside of the U.S. are saying they have a single panel that they bought for $3,000 to $4,000 that powers an entire skyscraper. Waste of time….

Peter K
Reply to  Poitiers28
June 5, 2023 4:47 am

If you fall for deceiving advertisement and buy 30,000$ solar installation on household, it is your problem and (not saying stupidity).
You just paying for diminishing return.
Price of panels is somewhere around 400$ per 1kW installation.
1kW will give you around 1MWh per year.
Standard household is using somewhere between 1MWh and 6MWh without heating, car charging.
So the sweet spot is somewhere between 1kW and 6kW installation, you will end up with around 70% of your energy need.
That is around 400$ – 2400$ price of panels.
Then you must count all the gravy around.
Most expensive is battery. For quick return it is needed to use smallest battery possible. You can have few goals here

  1. store energy for running your energy hungry device like washer, or dishwasher. It is usually around 1.5kWh.
  2. store energy to keep you overnight, usually around 5kWh
  3. store energy to keep you 24 hours, usually around 15kWh
  4. store as much as possible

Economically most effective is #1.
1.5kWh battery price is around 500$
Pragmatic choice is #2 for around 1600$
Then you need inverter.
If you are going for price 5kW Voltronic Axpert for around 800$ is good choice.
If you want quality then 4,2kW Victron for around 2500$ can do.
Rest is just installation material, cables, breakers, construction for panels plus work.
If somebody wants 10.000 for it find someone else.
For 30.000$ you should have installation for small village, or this skyscraper.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Peter K
June 5, 2023 8:30 am

Peter, thanks for the attention you are paying this subject. I, like some others in this group, have the feeling that somehow Big Solar doesn’t have, after all is included, a favorable EROEI. I cannot clearly state why I have this feeling; it’s simply my BS meter going off. A while back I tried analyzing Big Solar from a purely cost basis – cost being a proxy for energy. I think I saw a total payback on the order of 12-15 years. It seemed a wash to me. This included a bunch of assumptions and guesses on my part as some of these things seem to be hidden information.

I too have a small private solar installation. It is the electrical power for a vacation cabin up in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California (new to us April 2022). It has 16 square meters of panels, and 3.2 KWh of lead/acid batteries. The power handling system are older “Outback” components. The panels are rooftop and not optimally oriented, especially for snow accumulation as I found out in this amazing winter we just had!

This system easily handles the power needs of our occasional and low profile cabin visits. The largest power draws are the water well submersible pump (1500W) and the water system pressure pump (1500W). I run the well pump maybe 15 minutes (125 gallons pumped) per a two day stay to top up our 2600 gallon holding tank, and that is about the amount of time the pressure pump runs too. There is a 300 gallon propane tank for the cook stove and hot water heater. We are using so little propane I have a hard time estimating the usage – say 100 gallons/year max. From about October to April I use a wood burning stove to heat the cabin. If we had to live there through the winter we would burn a lot of wood.

The 2400 square foot cabin was built in 1980 by a professional electrical engineer for his residence. The primary power in 1980 was a diesel generator. Loud and stinky as a long time neighbor remembers. The cabin had both 12V and 120V systems. There was propane and kerosene plumbed into the cabin for light and heating. All of that wonderfully complex wiring and plumbing is still there and is a bit of the charm of the place.

Solar (and a bit of wind) has taken over these off-grid mountain communities. I remember 30 years ago the pervasive background thrum of generators up there. It’s pretty quiet now.

Peter K
Reply to  Randle Dewees
June 6, 2023 12:48 am

Hi Randle,

I lived 4 years in Mountain View, California, I still have chills when thinking about Sierra Nevada. Gorgeous nature, beauty…Did nice bunch of trips and hiking there.
Cabin there must be awesome.
I myself have small cabin here next to local lake, I have well, but only one pump and just very small pressure water tank of like 15 gallons (50 liters). This one pump is submerged in well and switching on when pressure in tank drops. It is working well, but it would be worse for solar, it is better to start pump once daily a fill bigger tank, then count with pump starting and straining inverter 50 times a day.
I’m also thinking about solar system in my cabin, but I have grid electricity there and paying only like 80 Euros yearly for it, so there is no return there.
Only reason to build a solar there is independency from grid.
As I’m using cabin only during summer, it is quite doable.

paul courtney
Reply to  Peter K
June 6, 2023 2:35 pm

Mr. K: Thought I’d keep looking before saying this- not once in all your promotional nattering do you address the point of this article- the massive waste stream coming from use of solar panels. You like your setup so much, the looming environmental disaster (the ones caused by Greens are the real disasters) is ignored. You and other enthusiasts have no answer for this, but you are bringing it.

Peter K
Reply to  paul courtney
June 9, 2023 6:16 am

Mr. C. I have 8 panels 2mx1m on my roof. They are 20kg each. Around half of this is fully recyclable aluminum frame and cables. So I have around 80kg’s of glass and silicon waste.
Lifetime of panels is around 20 years. So we have 80kg of waste per 20 years.
Hardly environmental disaster.
Read and learn…

Barnes Moore
June 5, 2023 4:17 am

Initiatives like ROSI, the world’s first factory fully dedicated to recycling solar panels, are emerging. These ventures, still in their infancy, provide hope that even if the onslaught of dubious solar farm installations continue, that it’s not too late to turn this potential eco-disaster around”.

And the ROSI factory will be powered by – drum roll… – you guessed it, fossil fuels, or maybe nuclear. Wind and solar are incapable of powering any energy intensive process and based on what little we can learn about ROSI is that it will be an energy intensive and expensive process.

Joseph Zorzin
June 5, 2023 4:49 am

“While they are being promoted around the world as a crucial weapon in reducing carbon emissions, solar panels only have a lifespan of up to 25 years…”

Of the 14,000 panels installed in a “farm” behind my ‘hood in 2012, a few hundred were just replaced- I asked one of the technicians doing this work what the problem was and he said lightning.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 9, 2023 6:35 am

Another issue the Eco-Nazis don’t even give a passing thought to – the vulnerability of solar panels and wind turbines to adverse weather.

With wind and solar, powerful storms won’t just damage transmission and distribution lines and equipment, the power production equipment ITSELF gets destroyed, thereby lengthening the period during which no power is available.

Joseph Zorzin
June 5, 2023 4:51 am

“Moreover, there’s simply not enough infrastructure to handle this kind of recycling demand.”

No problemo, just offer countless more billions of dollars to subsidize this new industry! /sarc

Tom Halla
June 5, 2023 5:39 am

The Green Blob would have their panties in a twist over the likely method of recycling solar panels, grinding and heap leaching.

June 5, 2023 6:21 am

Time out…While there are many reasons solar energy will never be anything more than a niche solution, and we can’t argue with the concluding sentence of this article, the problem may not be quite as bad as stated—

For easy arithmetic– one solar panel is 2cu ft–there are 10^8 households in the US, and each would need, say, 18 solar panels when the PuppertMasters in DC mandate PV for all, and life of a panel is 20 yrs, then each yr we would be dumping ~2 million cu ft of panels for the whole country….

… but a single, typical landfill holds 4 million cu ft of capacity and serves only eight counties, ie- hundreds in the US.

Ignoring the loss of valuable materials (3% of a panel) until the tectonic plate subsides and recycles itself eventually, disposal of spent panels is a manageable problem….

…Just don’t do it in my backyard.

Paul Hurley
June 5, 2023 6:35 am

By 2030, we think we’re going to have four million tonnes [of scrap] – which is still manageable – but by 2050, we could end up with more than 200 million tonnes globally,

Now there’s a hockey stick. 🙄

June 5, 2023 6:36 am

This is not a problem…..all the solar waste can be covered over with windmill waste….out of sight….out of mind.

June 5, 2023 6:45 am

There are some exceptions here in the U.S.

Recycling | First Solar

and this….
“One kilogram of First Solar’s semiconductor material can be recycled 41 times over, which translates into a use time of more than 1,200 years.”

letmepicyou only
June 5, 2023 7:10 am

Why hasn’t some entrepreneur started an “out of commission solar power farm” where all these de-commed solar panels can be hooked up to a power grid to eek out the last few watts of power in their lives? Imagine 1,000 acres filled with half-used up solar panels still spitting out power. It’d be better than chucking them in a landfill, anyway. Just an idea.

letmepicyou only
Reply to  Charles Rotter
June 5, 2023 7:21 am

Even if you were getting hundreds of de-comm panels for pennies on the dollar, or even free? I would think there would be some point where you would make SOMETHING back.

letmepicyou only
Reply to  Charles Rotter
June 5, 2023 10:37 am

I’m not sure what you’re basing this on…most charge controllers don’t really care about “mismatched panels”, so I don’t really know what you base this on. Installation and management costs? Has someone with an actual background in power generation, I’m picturing…a generic rack system with generic plug-ins. You could even manage the whole thing with a single Raspberry Pi per panel bank.

Look, I’ll never argue for Solar being a primary source of power – the ROI is simply too far down the line to be realized in a timely fashion, if it ever materializes at all. But the fact remains, there are a myriad of solar panels entering “decom land”, and if those panels can be used to provide 1% of a region’s power (regardless of how small that ‘region’ is), then it makes more sense to keep them in the sun and putting out power until they absolutely won’t produce ANYTHING anymore.

There is no such thing as “greenhouse gases”, Carbon Dioxide feeds the world, and solar and wind power are not economically feasible. I understand that the “green movement” is utter nonsense. But chucking otherwise functioning (albeit at a reduced efficiency) solar panels in a landfill when something can still be got from them is ridiculous. We mined the minerals to make em, we made the panels, now why not extract every single available watt from them they can produce? When you can get truck loads of panels for free (or damn close to it), then it makes sense to at least do a study to determine the feasibility. That’s all I’m saying – that maybe we should take a look into using them before tossing them in a landfill.

Peter K
Reply to  letmepicyou only
June 6, 2023 1:00 am

Imagine you have two panels. One is capable of 100W (20V x 5A), second is capable of 200W (10V x 20A) so you have 300W of panels.
If you connect them in series, current is set by lowest value so you have 5A there not 20A. Your power is 20V x5A + 10V x 5A = 150W, you are losing 150W
If you connect them in parallel, they will be forced to have same voltage of around 15V. If you check power output curve of those panels you will see that 100W panel will have output of only like 3A on 15V (it is in in front of maximum power point of 20V) and 200W panel will have like 1A ( it is behind maximum power point of 10V). So total energy gained will be 15V x 3A + 15V x 1A = 60W only.

Those are only 2 panels, imagine infinite bunch of them.
Practically impossible to match.
You will be gaining only like 15-50% of their already low maximum power.

Reply to  letmepicyou only
June 5, 2023 10:47 am

Shuuush. They may have thought of it for the tax credit claims using old panels. Call it recycled tax credits.

They are already relabeling panels to fake domestic content for tax credits.

story tip

First Solar takes Toledo Solar to court over ‘false representation’ (

June 5, 2023 7:24 am

Since the ecofascists and Nut Zero idiots have made energy more expensive, they have made lots of recycling uneconomic.

June 5, 2023 7:34 am

If we are to drive millions of battery-powered cars, we will have to dispose millions of spent lithium-ion batteries which contain toxic materials, are highly flammable, and emit lethal hydrogen fluoride gas if ignited. They cost more to recycle than the resulting products are worth, so they will be dumped wherever the Mafia dumps them, No worries.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  generalmilley
June 6, 2023 6:52 am

Yes, it’s pretty easy to see that Nut Zero is Nuts!

The people proposing this insanity haven’t taken everything into consideration.

Once you look below the surface, you can see the “renewables” horror show on the horizon.

Our Dear Leaders are Nuts.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 9, 2023 1:32 pm

Oh yeah.

You can back WAY up on that issue.

How much thought has been applied to the potential effects on weather patterns that may be caused by extracting all that energy from the wind? And from the Sun?

They haven’t given it a moment’s thought.

Not to mention the effects on wild life, which they cynically ignore in their zeal to supposedly ‘save’ us from their imaginary “crisis.”

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  generalmilley
June 9, 2023 1:27 pm

Maybe that will become the new power plant…build a big containment building and feed it “spent” lithium-ion batteries, then harness the heat of the fire to make steam.

Oh, and of course install one hell of a “scrubber” to remove the very real toxins (as opposed to imaginary Boogymen like ‘PM2.5’) from the smoke.

June 5, 2023 8:02 am

even if the onslaught of dubious solar farm installations continue, that it’s not too late to turn this potential eco-disaster around.

And of course our noble Green Power advocates are including these costs-to-infinity in all their evaluations of the COSTS to the world population of their drooling green power.

Ben Vorlich
June 5, 2023 9:28 am

After reading the article I did a quick search on the effect on property prices for having solar panels installed. At the moment it appears they ADD somewhere between 4 and 20% the the value of the house.
If governments make recycling complusory rather than crushing and landfill then than will cost money, then there will be the cost of replacement panels. So buying a house with a 10-15 year old Solar PV installation may mean a big outlay a few years down the line.
This must negatively affect the value of a property

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 5, 2023 9:35 am

Maybe another tax credit scheme for the rich will solve that problem. /sarc

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 6, 2023 7:06 am

Do insurance companies charge more for a house with solar panels mounted on the roof?

Solar panels are an obstacle to fighting a house fire, which probably results in more damage to the structure than had there been no solar panels on the roof. That’s my assumption.

I think insurance policies are going to be a big issue where it concerns lithium batteries. I don’t know how insurance policies will affect solar panel installations.

Considering that the Nut Zero crowd has managed to put even my electric grid in Oklahoma at risk of blackouts, I’m interested in installing solar panels as a means of getting free from the stupid policies of climate alarmists.

I have enough land that I don’t have to use my roof for the solar panels, I can put them out in the field next to the house.

And I have a nice little creek just a few hundred feet from my house, where I may have to set up a water-driven generator. It’s a little tricky since the creek can rise and fall 10 or 15 feet depending on the rainfall. I guess I’ll have to check with Joe Biden, since he claims control over every body of water down to puddles on your property. Or at least, that’s what he wants, but I think the Supreme Court derailed him on that.

Yes, I guess I’m going to have to check into installing solar panels. I wouldn’t have to do so if it weren’t for the CO2-phobes.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 9, 2023 1:33 pm

It would for me!

Tom Abbott
June 6, 2023 6:18 am

From the article: “Moreover, there’s simply not enough infrastructure to handle this kind of recycling demand. And with the first generation of solar panels nearing the end of their usable life, the clock is ticking.”

That’s just the first generation of solar panesl. And these people think we are going to be able to power society with solar panels, when we are already running into unsurmountable problems with them. it’s not going to happen.

We have some real dingbats in positions of power. They are destroying our world with their CO2 delusions.

AGW is Not Science
June 8, 2023 1:39 pm

So, after deduction of (1) all energy inputs into making solar panels (including mining, smelting, fabrication, and all related transport), (2) all energy that will be used in these “recycling factories,” and (3) all the electricity solar panels produce when nobody needs it, remind me why we waste our time, efforts and resources to make them at all. 🙄

Peter K
June 9, 2023 6:33 am
Looks like 95% of panels can be recycled. It is basically aluminum, copper, glass, plastic, trace metals.
This possible solar panel-geddon is simply no issue.

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